President John C. Bravman
Thank you, Phil, and thank you to all of tonight's speakers.
I am delighted to join the Class of 2015 for this celebration of your becoming part of the Bucknell community.
Matriculation, which officially marks your enrollment at Bucknell University, may seem some sort of an anachronistic formality. After all, you're here. You've paid your tuition - I hope! - signed up for your courses, moved into your dorm, and said goodbye to your parents. (Don't forget to call them, they miss you already!)
How much more real can it get?
Well, I can tell you it's going to get a lot more real, and soon. The next few days of Orientation will be a whirlwind. And then, suddenly, classes will begin, and you will know what I mean.
Tonight, however, is a celebratory moment to put aside any concerns you might have about finding your way to class, about tackling your first semester's coursework, about making it work with your roommate, or anything else.
Tonight is the time to consider the deeper meaning of joining this community...this family; tonight is the time to consider the meaning of becoming, and being forevermore, a Bucknellian. Your understanding of that, nascent at best, will grow over time - and in the fullness of time, will have the power to move you deeply.
The poet William Butler Yeats is often credited with the statement: "In dreams begins responsibility." Yeats had specific poetical and political reasons for putting forth this idea, but I'd like to adapt it for our purposes tonight.
"In dreams begins responsibility."
Your first responsibility is to yourself. In many ways, this is your time, in a special way that will not come again. This is your first, last, and only freshman year, just as this is your first, last, and only opportunity to spend four years at a great undergraduate institution. Make it work for you! Remember your dreams, remember your hopes, remember your aspirations, remember the journey that brought you here.
Let those remembrances animate your life, especially when you are challenged, and let them motivate you to become the very best version of you that you can become. You will find many who will try to define you. Do not let them. My first challenge to you is simple: make certain that you define yourself. That is the beginning of responsibility.
"In dreams begins responsibility."
My second challenge to you, since you now are officially part of our community, is to perceive and embrace the dreams of others, because in the end it's not just about you. It's also about others. About family. About friends. About community. Look at the challenges we face. (Look at the mess - the messes - we are in.) The world desperately needs thinkers and doers, but above all it needs people who can look beyond themselves, who can meld their own dreams with those of others, and synthesize a new creation.
The approaching 10th anniversary of 9/11 serves as a reminder of how powerful division and self-interest can be, and how it can foster the worst in us . It reminds us that change can come dramatically fast. But it also reminds us that some truths endure, like the power of hope, charity, and love.
Almost everyone with whom you will connect - students, faculty, staff, and our downtown neighbors alike - is engaged in creating an environment where every member of this community can grow.
Just as it is your responsibility to become your best self, it is also your responsibility to help ensure that every single member of this community has the freedom to do the same. Even when - especially when - we are called to challenge each other over controversial issues or tough topics, such as race, class, gender, politics, religion. Those discussions, those challenging confrontations with difference, can be a powerful part of your education. Embrace them as unique opportunities to learn and to grow.
This campus is a space where you can - where you must - pursue the big questions in life. About who you are. What matters to you. Who you want to become. What role you can play in the lives of those around you. These responsibilities come with being part of any community, and, starting now, they apply to you as you pursue your dreams as a member of the community of our university...that is, of your University.
Bucknellians, we welcome you. Thank you!
It is now my honor to issue to you your formal proclamation of matriculation.
The pin that you receive tonight symbolizes your induction into the Class of 2015. Wear it proudly, and hold it as a sign of the attributes that bind you forever to all other Bucknellians: your spirit of inquiry, your quest for knowledge, and your desire to make a difference in this world.
I now ask that you attach your pin to the front of your dress, shirt, or jacket.
As President of this great university, I now declare you Bucknellians! Congratulations!
I am now pleased to introduce Bucknell's men's a capella group, the Bison Chips. Please join them in singing our alma mater, "Dear Bucknell."
Class, momentarily, you will walk out the door through a set of luminaria and proceed through the Christy Mathewson gates. Several of us will be there to greet you. The next time these gates will open to you will be at your Commencement, when you will process through them again, marking the completion of your formal studies as a Bucknell student. I encourage you to reflect upon what you hope to become in your time at Bucknell.
You are a Bucknellian. Dream big.
Please remain standing for the benediction.